Home Instead Senior Care, Birmingham

A Day in the Life of Peter

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A day in the life of Peter
A franchise owner in Green Bay, WI, shared this success story written by his CAREGiver Shawn C.  This story shows the powerful role that CAREGivers play in enhancing the lives of seniors each day.

When I arrive at 9 a.m. Peter is usually at the table, completely dressed, shaved and ready for the day. He'll be reading his paper, and eating his breakfast. After breakfast I'll walk with him, and we'll talk as we make our way out to the sunroom for his morning exercises. At least a half hour of squats, leg lifts, marching in place and exercises with an arm band and balls, Peter is ready for the day and eyeing the sunshine outside.

"Where are we going today?"  Peter often asks. Good question! What haven't we done recently? A drive in the country, or a farmer's market? The wildlife sanctuary, pet store or zoo are all options as are the amusement park, beach, or a museum. He also enjoys the marinas and boat landings, art galleries and dining on the deck (eating lunch outside on the river walk while we listen to live music.) The sky is the limit with Peter. In fact, as we stand up to leave, he will often sing "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...", and we laugh because that's all the words to the song either of us remember.

Our day is usually spent out of the house. We use a transfer chair now, but it doesn't limit our choices. This particular morning we start at the cemetery and mausoleum where Peter talks about his family while I water plants and clean off the markers of those he loved so well. Then we might stop at the Home Instead office for a cup of coffee and a cookie on our way to Lambeau Field to see how far they've gotten with the renovations. At lunchtime, you might catch us having a picnic at Jackson Square Park. After that, we'll take a drive along the Bay, stopping often to look at the scenery. Sometimes Peter will nap for about 10 minutes while we drive from one place to the next. But ever interested in life, Peter won't nap long. Soon his eyes will open and he'll be part of the conversation again.

Late afternoon will usually find us back at the house (or at a park) for his afternoon exercises and supper. TV at 7? Not for Peter! Usually we are on our way out to the Dairy Queen and boat landing to watch the sunset on the river. We've been there often enough now to recognize the "regulars" and are glad to count ourselves among them. As the last of the sun's rays light the sky, we head for home. When we get there, we'll get dressed for bed and I will download pictures of our day onto the computer. Then we'll watch our "movie" for the day, a slideshow on the computer of everywhere we've been and all the things we've done that day. We'll talk about the beautiful scenery and laugh at the children playing. We'll discuss where we went and what we enjoyed the most. At 10 p.m. Peter goes to his room to get ready for bed. He'll sleep well tonight. It was a day well spent.

You might wonder why I wanted to share this day with you. It is not an unusual day for Peter. But a year ago this wasn’t the case. On May 21, 2011, Peter lost his wife of over 71 years - his beautiful Janey. With Jane's passing, Peter lost his family, his wife, his traveling companion and many of his memories. She was the one who could tell him names of people in pictures and fill in gaps of memory his dementia had stolen. Peter was the last of the children in his family and he had no children of his own. With heart problems - both physically and spiritually - and declining physical strength, he was placed on Hospice care on January 13, 2012, his 99th birthday.
But Peter's story doesn’t end there. His CAREGivers were still with him and we changed his diet to the low fat, low sodium diet recommended by the hospital almost 15 years before. Restaurant meals were replaced with homemade soups, daily salads and fruit. High protein yogurt and cottage cheese replaced creams and gravies. The mild winter allowed us to take Peter out more often, and we started exercising regularly at home.

As winter melted to spring, and spring to summer. Five squats a day became twenty twice a day, and before long he was lifting his knees above the bars of his walker while marching in place. He started to lose weight and napped less often. His nighttime sleep pattern improved and his daily activities kept him more alert. Even though he has had dementia for years, he recently started making comments that indicate he is making new memories. Best of all, we were told this week that he might not qualify for Hospice care anymore. At 99 1/2, he is doing well and is proof that some things really do get better with age.

To us it's personal